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Officials Warn Of West Nile Virus Threat After Flooding

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– There’s a new threat from Maryland’s widespread flooding. Standing water brings a mosquito invasion, and with them, the risk of a deadly virus.

Kai Jackson has more on the major health concern.

That mosquito is a familiar pest, and the potentially deadly infection they can carry is the West Nile Virus.

Last week’s torrential rains were devastating to Maryland on a number of levels. Homes, businesses and streets were flooded, and many, following Hurricane Irene, lost power again.

The damage was widespread. Yet state officials say all of that water is breeding a new problem– mosquitoes and the potential for the West Nile Virus.

“Since the storm, the mosquito population has increased somewhere between one-third and almost five times,” said Anthony DeWitt of the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

West Nile is a virus found in mosquitoes and birds. The virus is a cycle between the two that’s transmitted to humans when infected mosquitoes bite people. In some cases, it can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control says this year, there have been five cases of West Nile in Maryland.

“If someone gets sick because of a mosquito bite, I feel that it needs to be taken care of,” Elaine King, an Anne Arundel County resident, said.

The standing water that officials are concerned about is not in a backyard. The mess was created by the floodwaters. So unless evaporation gets rid of it, there’s really nothing to stop mosquitoes from breeding.

“Most important thing is to keep containers from gathering water in your yard,” DeWitt said.

You can see the state’s control team spraying pesticides in the near future. They’ll also be looking for breeding sites and will also be applying pesticides to infected areas with larva.

Health officials recommend that people apply products to help prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.

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